The Forbidden City

Brief History

The Forbidden City, also called the Palace Museum, the Purple Forbidden City or Gugong Museum in Chinese, is located in the center of Beijing, China. The Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 during the Ming Dynasty. It had been the imperial home of 24 emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. From their throne in the Forbidden City, they governed the country by holding court sessions with their ministers, issuing imperial edicts and initiating military expeditions.

After the republican revolution in 1911, the youngest and last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, then still a child, abdicated the next year. But he, his family and their entire entourage were allowed to stay in the palaces. They were finally expelled by republican troops in 1924. It has been the Palace Museum to the public since 1950. The Forbidden City is one of the largest and best-preserved palace complexes in the world. There are over a million rare and valuable objects in the Museum.

Overall View

I have gathered a lot of beautiful pictures of the Forbidden City on the Internet, though they are only a glimpse of the Forbidden City. I'll guide you through those pictures part by part in this tour on the Net.

Here is a map of the Forbidden city. The square-shaped Forbidden City is surrounded by a man-made moat, called the protective river of the city, and a high red wall (about 35 feet or 11 meters in height). The Forbidden City, like most other Chinese buildings, faces south. It has two Courts, the Inner Court and the Outer Court, separated around the middle line between the south and north ends. The Outer Court mainly consists of the Hall of Protective Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The Inner Court mainly consists of the Hall of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union and Peace, and the Hall of Earthly Peace, which are flanked by the Six East Palaces and the Six West Palaces. Here are maps in English, Chinese GB, and Chinese Big5, which show the detailed layout of the Forbidden City, from China Vista.

Outer Court

The Meridian Gate is viewed from inside the Forbidden City, which is the main gate at the Southern end (the front) of the Forbidden City.

Here is one of the four watch towers on each corner of the wall surrounding the Forbidden City.

The Gate of Supreme Harmony is viewed from the front. Here is a little closer look of the Gate of Supreme Harmony. If you are interested in detail, here is a gold leaf of dragon on the door of the Gate of Supreme Harmony. The ceiling of the Gate of Supreme Harmony is the largest free-standing gate in the Forbidden City. There is a square between the Meridian Gate and the Gate of Supreme Harmony, used for lining up of guards before important ceremonies. The five bridges represent the five Confucian virtues of humanity, sense of duty, wisdom, reliability and ceremonial propriety.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony, also referred to as the throne, was the place for important ceremonies like the enthronement of the crown prince, the emperor's birthday celebrations, and the initiation of military expeditions. This bronze turtle is onf of the symbols of longevity. Yellow tile roofs were adorned with dragons.

The Hall of Central Harmony is the resting place of the emperors before major ceremonies or receiving officials. Here is a different angle of the Hall of Central Harmony.

The Hall of Protective Harmony is the place for the emperors giving banquets and interviewing those passed the imperial examinations. This is the emperor's throne.

Inner Court

Here is the front chamber of the Hall of Heavenly Purity.

The Hall of Union and Peace had been used for the safekeeping of 25 jade seals of the imperial court since Emperor Qianlong's reign. Here is the throne in the Hall of Union and Peace.

The Hall of Earthly Peace was the residence of the empress. As a custom, the red screen with golden "double-happiness" characters in the Eastern gallery was used in front of the entrance of the chamber.

The Imperial Garden was built in 1417. Here are a few pictures of the Imperial Garden from China Vista:

Eastern Palaces and More

The Hall of Preserved Elegance is one of the six Eastern Palaces. The Pavilion of Cheerful Melodies is a three-story building and the largest of its kind in the Forbidden City.

The Garden of the Palace of Peaceful Longevity is located in the Western rear corner of the Palace of Peaceful Longevity.

The six Western palaces are symmetrical to the six Eastern palaces.

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